Indonesian teacher Herry Wirawan (C) is escorted prior to his trial at a court in Bandung, West Java on February 15, 2022, where he was later sentenced to life in prison for the rape of 13 students, all minors. Photograph:( AFP )
The rape cases had become national news in Indonesia and drawn widespread condemnation
A court in Indonesia handed a life imprisonment sentence to a teacher found guilty of rape of 13 students. The case had drawn national attention to sexual abuse is some of Indonesia's religious boarding schools.
Herry Wirawan, 36, was found guilty of raping 13 female students -- all minors -- and impregnating at least eight of them by Bandung district court in West Java.
The revelations sparked national outrage, with a senior government official saying President Joko Widodo has paid special attention to the case.
A family of a female student reported Wirawan to the police last year for raping and impregnating their teenage daughter. The pattern of sexual abuse committed by Wirawan soon emerged.
During the trial, it was revealed he had raped the children -- many from poor families attending the school on scholarships -- over five years.
Prosecutors requested chemical castration and the death penalty for the accused, who asked the judge for leniency to allow him to raise his children.
Wirawan arrived in court in handcuffs and kept his head down as judge Yohannes Purnomo Suryo Adi sentenced him to life in prison.
The court said restitution for the victims will be paid by the government.
The chairman of Indonesia's Child Protection Commission said Tuesday's verdict meant "justice for the victims has been served".
'There will be more'
But a family member of one of the victims told AFP he was "very disappointed" that Wirawan did not receive a harsher sentence and warned that leniency would embolden other abusers.
"This wound will never be healed as long as we live, maybe until we die. The pain we are feeling is indescribable. We don't feel heard," said Hidmat Dijaya, an uncle of one of the 13 victims.
"If the sentence is lenient like this, there will be more Islamic teachers who will abuse children," he added.
"We will let God as the highest judge punish him. We can only pray because those judges failed to represent our hurt and pain."
(With inputs from agencies)